December 4, 2008

Settlement Statistics, as of Summer 2008
200,000: Estimated Jewish population within Jerusalem municipal borders beyond the Green Line (1949 Armistice lines)

Outside of Jerusalem borders
120: Number of settlements
282,000: Settler population

West of separation barrier
43: Number of settlements
202,000: Settler population

East of separation barrier
77: Number of settlements
80,000: Settler population

Settlement breakdown
16%: Secular
25%: Religious
26%: Ultra-orthodox
33%: Mixed

~100: Number of outposts (inhabited areas, unauthorized by the Israeli government, beyond the existing developed areas of settlements)

Select Settler Groups
Yesha Council – The Yesha Council is the governing body of the settler movement that retains official authority in the West Bank. Its responsibilities include receiving taxes from local councils, helping in settlement planning and construction and coordinating security with Israeli security forces. In 2007, the composition of the council changed from one comprised mainly of leaders of local and regional councils to one with more prominent religious figures with a stronger public profile.

Hilltop youth – This group, often second- and third-generation settlers, has been taking over hilltops outside existing settlements and establishing outposts since the 1990s. It has become increasingly separated from the mainstream religious and ideological settler movement that began to divide following the 2005 disengagement from Gaza and 2006 clashes in Amona between settlers and Israeli security forces. They are beginning to reject the authority of the Yesha Council and traditional allegiances to the state. In recent years, the hilltop youth have increasingly depended on severe tactics, including challenging government attempts to dismantle illegal outposts and countering Palestinian acts of violence through extralegal means. Some hilltop youth and their leaders identify with the Kahanist movement and the militant faction Kach and its splinter Kahane Chai, which have been designated as one terrorist organization by the United States since 1994 when Baruch Goldstein, a follower of Meir Kahane, massacred 29 Muslims who were praying at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron in observance of Ramadan.

Secular camp – Economic incentives largely motivated these Israelis to become settlers. Successive Israeli governments provided tax breaks, cheaper housing, subsidies on transportation and education, and other incentives to encourage relocation to settlements. Often secular settlers live near the Green Line and can easily access Israeli cities. Some secular groups moved to settlements for non-economic reasons. For example, certain factions moved to areas in the Jordan Valley as a means to help Israel retain control of that land.

Ultra-Orthodox camp – The ultra-Orthodox make up another settlement group that has relocated largely for non-ideological reasons. In addition to economic incentives and certain settlements’ close proximity to Israel, this religious community is not deterred by the isolated nature of settlements. There are also greater opportunities to find housing in settlements as opposed to ultra-Orthodox housing options in Israeli cities.

Settlers’ Opinions
Some settlers have expressed willingness to relocate inside the Green Line if provided compensation. A 2005 survey sponsored by One Home, an Israeli organization that has lobbied for an evacuation compensation law, found that 35 percent of settlers supported legislation to compensate settlers for voluntarily leaving their homes and 25 percent of settlers east of the separation barrier would be willing to leave for compensation. In September 2008, Israel’s Vice Premier Haim Ramon publicized a survey that indicated roughly 18 percent of settlers that live east of the separation barrier, would relocate immediately in return for compensation.

This background basics was primarily sourced from Peace Now, the Israeli Ministry of Defense and the Institute for National Security Studies.

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